There is a wonderful phenomenon that happens at our house, more and more. It has a lot to do with the kids getting older, but homeschooling has certainly encouraged it. It's the simple wonders of dinnertime conversations.
Matt is the guy who usually gets things started. His family homeschooled, and are all geniuses, so it's not hard to visualize their dinnertime conversations. You had kindergarten aged children talking about how the price of peanut butter had risen (true story), and 5th graders talking about a community issue that he read about in the local paper. At first it intimidated me, going to dinner at their house, until I realized I could just be a lurker, sitting quietly and just absorbing. Over the years, I think I've actually gotten smarter, being married to Matt (balanced out by the fact that all the pregnancies have made me dumber), and I'm glad to know that he will be doing the same for my kids. It's too much pressure knowing that all their learning is on your shoulders!
These great conversations often come up because Matt asked someone what they are learning in Science or History, or because someone's questioning mind wonders out loud. One question always leads to another, and another, and either Matt or I will explain. Most of the time, their curiosity exceeds the time that it takes for eating, or the span of attention of the boys, so sometimes "class" is abruptly stopped. But it's a beautiful thing to see a thought germinate and sprout into a tiny plant of of an idea. It's so rewarding to see that they comprehend and appreciate the explanation, prompting more questions, but it's also beneficial when we have to stop the conversation and they are encouraged to go find more information on their own. It always does my heart proud.
Last night dinnertime was a little more dull at first -- energy was flagging and some of the tweens (and the mom) had been cranky during the day. Julia finished eating early and asked to be excused before the rest of us were finished, but I jokingly told her that if she left I would miss her. Matt woke up from Blackberry Land at this point, and drew her in. He was asking her about her day and trying to get her to talk, which she wasn't too much in the mood for. So Matt really turned on the charm and started talking about extemporaneous speeches. (Hey, I never said the man was normal.) He explained to the girls that many, many people that he works with cannot do it, and would really benefit themselves if they could. So he went first, and each of the older kids had a turn giving a 2 minute extemporaneous speech on the topic of her choice.
Not only was I amazed at their speeches, but I was amazed that there were speeches. Would you have done this as a child? I certainly would not! But Matt was able to work his usual magic, and suddenly I heard a speech on Hope's love of all aspects of horses, included a brief description of their care and tack. Julia spoke about what lead her to start writing her novel. Elena, who is the only girl in both Tennis and Taekwondo in our house, spoke about the similiarities between the two sports, and Noelle spoke about her love of Taekwondo, using the phrase "a 'form' is a pattern of movements that help you learn different techniques in TaeKwondo." (She's only 8!) Unbelievable!
I know my face was smiling, and was probably beaming. But here's one thing Matt probably didn't suspect, however .... he doesn't know that the whole time, this teacher/mom was hoping the that he wouldn't call on her next! :-)